Big Brother

BIG BROTHER IN AMERICA: Police Drones Filling The Skies In Record Numbers

Just last week, a terrifying story regarding blanket surveillance in Miami, Florida emerged, cementing the concern over America’s transformation into a surveillance state.

Now, new data is surfacing that begins to paint a much larger picture of the 1984-esque Big Brother slowly being installed in the United States, as technology and a lust for power and wealth collide in society.

In our pockets, nearly all  of us carry a device capable of recording our conversations, our travel, our habits and desires.  We live, perpetually, with a corruptible spy pressed against the inside of our jeans.  We’ve willingly allowed this to happen for the sake of convenience, much like we allow the TSA to uncomfortably grope us for the sake of “safety”.  With these devices now being fitted with applications that utilize a highly functioning set of facial recognition technologies, the potential for our telephones to shatter our Fourth Amendment rights is astounding.

With this massive technological jump in cell phone technology, which has led to breakthroughs in camera and GPS tech as well, drones are being much more easily fitted with surveillance options, making them useful for a number of applications…not the least of which being police work.  The obvious issue however, is how to deploy these devices reasonably, without trampling all over the U.S. Constitution.

“At least 347 state and local police, sheriff, fire and emergency units in the United States have acquired drones, according to an April report by Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College.

“’More and more departments in the public safety space, particularly in law enforcement, are acquiring drones for a range of operations,’ says Dan Gettinger, co-director of the research group.

“Some departments, including the Loudoun County, Va., Sheriff’s Office use professional-grade unmanned aircraft systems. According to the Bard report, the Loudoun agency uses the Indago model, made by Lockheed Martin, with a price tag in the $25,000 range.

“’Most departments are acquiring the same systems that consumers might use — the DJI Phantom, the Parrot drones — for hobby purposes or recreational flying,’ said Gettinger. The DJI and Parrot systems generally cost less than $2,000.

“Public safety agencies have to follow the same process as drone owners that want to use the aircraft for business purposes.”

This massive uptick in the use of these easily-abusable tools should be concerning to all Americans, as the misuse of high-powered surveillance drones will certainly lead to illegal search and seizures conducted on our citizens.  In cases in which the drones are deployed to search for missing vehicles or stolen goods, how will police determine when and where to begin gathering evidence from their screens?  Will unintentionally surveilled properties be subject to future police action, even though they were not originally targeted?

Only time will tell how these technologies will impact our ability to conduct our private business in America.

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